One year ago, when COVID-19 was just starting to acquire its pandemic status, few people could have anticipated what the following months would have in store. The early toilet paper shortages and panic buying seem somewhat quaint compared to the havoc wrought on individuals, families, and businesses between then and now. With effective vaccines and rapid distribution on the way, there is now a light at the end of this tunnel. That said, even when the pandemic ends, the world will have to deal with its consequences for many years to come.
Business leaders are already looking ahead to what the future may hold while battling the burnout that has plagued everyone, from students, workers, leaders, and owners alike. As we’ve discussed before, the stress of leadership can be daunting enough to deal with during normal times, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this pressure. Businesses everywhere have had to lay off or furlough employees, suddenly switch to remote work protocols, reduce hours and customer capacity, adjust their supply chain, implement intensive cleaning and disinfection protocols, and so on. One year in, people everywhere are on their last legs, and leaders are no exception.
How to Lead Your People if They’re Burnt Out from COVID-19
Prioritize Self-Care and Stress Management
When challenging times arise and work piles up, it’s easy to fall into the trap of pushing yourself past your limits to keep up with deadlines. You might be able to go on this way for a little while, but eventually, your work will suffer — more importantly, so will your mental and physical health. This common situation describes burnout, and it can take a long time to reignite the flame. It’s better to prevent that proverbial flame from burning out in the first place by maintaining its heat and oxygen through self-care. In our previous blog on managing leadership stress, we discussed key ways to take care of your overall well-being, such as getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, practicing mindfulness (i.e. meditation, yoga), staying hydrated, maintaining a healthy diet, and taking breaks for enjoyment and relaxation when needed. Encouraging your employees to do the same by sharing your experience with these stress-relieving techniques is key for preventing (or at least mitigating) COVID burnout in your workplace. When everyone feels motivated to take care of themselves first and foremost, they will be better equipped to handle the challenges before them.
Keep on Communicating
We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: communication is one of the most important leadership qualities there is. And during COVID-19, strong communication has never been so crucial. At the most basic level, your people should be regularly informed about how the business is navigating COVID-related challenges. Any updates and changes must be clearly delivered, and everyone should feel free to ask questions and voice their concerns. Considering the nature of this pandemic, you may need to convey these messages via virtual meetings, emails, and other means. To keep burnout at bay, your communication style should be steeped in empathy — if you’re feeling burnt out, odds are your peers, partners, and employees are, too. Use your emotional intelligence to understand the shared and unique challenges faced by others to enhance your organization’s sense of community. Hosting virtual and community events will help you maintain and improve your company culture so everyone feels connected and valued.
Simplify Your Processes
If anything good has come from COVID-19, it’s that this pandemic has revealed what matters most, both in terms of everyday life and in business. While the initial shock of COVID sent many businesses into a frenzy, many that have been able to recover have gradually adjusted their priorities and trimmed the fat in key areas. Simplifying your processes by streamlining tasks, delegation, and your broader vision can reduce the risk of burnout and ultimately reshape your business in positive ways. You might, for instance, realize that remote work is a powerful tool for team management and that it greatly reduces overhead costs associated with rent, energy, commuting, etc. Every business and employee is different, of course — while some might appreciate the freedom of working from home, others might require more structure and crave in-person encounters. How you decide to adjust and simplify your processes during this latter portion of COVID-19 and afterward will depend on what you learn during this time. The key is paying attention to what your people are feeling and how it’s affecting your bottom line.
Keep the Big Picture in View
As we stated earlier, the implications of COVID-19 will carry on far beyond its official conclusion, contributing to leadership stress and potential burnout. As such, you must view this situation as a marathon rather than a sprint. The day-to-day doings of your business matter, but thinking too small and short-term can cloud your judgment and impede your view of the future. Of course, looking too far ahead can induce plenty of stress in its own right. To avoid burning out in either sense, you want to achieve a balance between short- and long-term thinking, where the way you handle things each and every day is informed by where and how you wish to steer your team and enterprise. In order to accomplish this, you must focus on becoming more adaptable and resilient, regularly taking stock of what is and isn’t working so you can fine-tune your business for the future.
Providing strong leadership in times of stress and change is no small feat, but it’s essential for alleviating burnout in yourself and your team. Taking care of your own well-being, maintaining emotionally-intelligent communication, simplifying your operations based on necessary changes, and implementing long-term thinking will allow you to lead your organization to a brighter future despite these challenging times.
At Leadership Resources, our purpose is to make the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.
No two leaders are exactly alike, but the most successful leaders often have plenty in common. Personal preferences, opinions, and life experiences aside, there are certain leadership qualities that ring true across the board — honesty, responsiveness, passion, integrity, etc. While these traits may be somewhat inherent in certain leaders, the best leaders become successful by honing these skills through hard work and habit formation. Let’s outline some essential habits that allow leaders to acquire and maintain success in their workplace and in life.
What Habits Make a Successful Leader?
Cultivating a Thirst for Knowledge
One of the most important qualities of an effective leader is the willingness and ability to continuously learn. Reading books across genres and fields of expertise, listening to people with diverse backgrounds and experiences, asking questions of peers, employees, friends, and strangers — all of these activities allow leaders to expand their horizons. Even if a piece of information might not seem immediately relevant to a leader’s life or career, the culmination of various bits of knowledge can be synthesized over time in new and unique ways. There is no downside, only upside, to receiving an ongoing education, and successful leaders know there’s always more to discover.
Maintaining a Balance of Confidence and Humility
There are always areas of growth for leaders, and the only way to identify and improve those areas is to put your ego aside and then pick it back up to act on those necessary changes. Leadership comes with power and privileges, and this prestige can cloud the mind of individuals who lack humility. Conversely, leaders who lack confidence can struggle to get things done, create buy-in, and keep their people on track. As such, the most successful leaders strike a balance between confidence and humility, listening closely to their peers and team members while not backing down from bold ideas. Practicing gratitude each and every day is another great way for leaders to stay humble and positive.
Focusing on Physical as well as Mental Health
The aforementioned power and privilege inherent in leadership also comes with its fair share of stress, which manifests both in the mind and body. Leaders who fail to take care of their mental and physical health can burn out, lash out, and/or simply become less effective overall. Leadership success largely depends on maintaining a healthy lifestyle both in and out of work. The best leaders focus on managing leadership stress by exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, eating healthy, taking breaks, practicing mindfulness (i.e. meditation, yoga), and more. Taking the time for self-care allows leaders to operate with a clear mind and high-functioning body — crucial for getting things done and getting them done right.
Effective leaders are also well-organized where it counts. While a messy desk might be a proverbial sign of genius, it’s not exactly ideal for strategic planning, scheduling, goal-tracking, and so on. Keeping documents and items in their proper places, taking regular notes, journaling, and maintaining a detailed calendar helps keep things straight so leaders can spend less time and energy shuffling papers around and more on other matters like idea generation, performance management, employee check-ins, executive meetings, etc.
Consistently Pushing Themselves and Others
Organizations can only grow if leaders and their teams are constantly coming up with new ideas and taking calculated risks. Indeed, this willingness to push the envelope is one of the key qualities of a good leader, and honing it depends on leaders pushing themselves out of their comfort zones in every area of their lives, not just at work. Successful leaders are always challenging themselves, whether it’s running an extra quarter-mile than initially planned, trying new cuisine, attending an unlikely event or concert, and so on. Living life “on the edge” in this way conditions leaders to be bolder in the workplace and mitigate the fear of the unknown so their organization and people can grow in unexpected ways.
Successful leaders are creatures of habit — not just any habits, but habits that help them gain new knowledge, become more self-aware, improve their mental and physical well-being, stay organized, and try new things. At Leadership Resources, our purpose is to make the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.Read More
There is no single “right way” to operate a business or poise it for long-term success. Every enterprise is unique, after all. Still, specific approaches transcend these differences, offering near-universal benefits to businesses of all sizes and types. Strategic leadership refers to one such approach to business management that can yield several long-term benefits when properly implemented and executed. Of course, it’s worth noting that the upsides of the strategic leadership approach are contrasted with some downsides, too.
Let’s Look at the Pros and Cons of Strategic Leadership
What Is Strategic Leadership?
Strategic leadership can be defined as a leadership philosophy that prioritizes the communication and execution of a particular vision via tangible, streamlined actions and processes. In other words, the strategic leader not only generates and clarifies a business’ vision, but also adeptly leads its team toward realizing said vision one step at a time — the best strategic leaders can simultaneously keep the big picture and key details in mind, which is precisely what allows their business to achieve its short- and long-term goals. The leadership skills required for this brand of leadership include strong communication, a focus on culture, judicious deployment of power, self-control, compassion, consistency, loyalty, and strong motivation.
The Plus Sides of Strategic Leadership
There are several potential benefits that come with the strategic leadership approach. First, strategic leaders are able to unite teams, generate buy-in, and keep everyone on the same page, working toward a collective goal. In this way, the strategic leader keeps departments from losing focus or losing touch with one other, which makes it that much easier to move the business forward. Next, strategic leadership establishes a framework for practical decision-making. When goals are clearly communicated, everyone can better contribute to the collective vision. Strategic leadership also facilitates impartial, long-term thinking, filtering daily decisions through the lens of the broader vision. And lastly, the best strategic leaders cultivate commitment among their teams by acting as models for proficiency and practicality. For all these reasons, businesses should consider investing in strategic leadership training for their top talent.
The Setbacks of Strategic Leadership
A strategic leadership approach isn’t a flawless one, of course. As with all long-term processes and goals, there’s no way to know for certain what the business, industry, or economy will look like in the next year, three years, five years, decade, and so on. In this way, long-term strategic thinking can become a significant expense and source of leadership stress, especially if a seemingly solid plan becomes irrelevant in the face of unpredictable changes. This is why strategic leaders must be as flexible as they are visionary. In a similar vein, strategic leaders can get lost in the bigger picture and start neglecting the business’ present issues and needs, which can cause budding problems to go unresolved and eventually interfere with the very vision in question. Ultimately, this lack of attention to the present moment can halt company growth and even result in long-term harm. Strategic leaders that either take too many risks or are too risk-averse can cause the company to miss out on key opportunities.
Developing a Winning Strategy for Your Leaders
Strategic leadership is not inherently good or bad, but rather a tool that can raise a business up for years to come or sink the ship for lack of seeing the iceberg straight ahead, so to speak. Every enterprise must determine its own balanced approach to strategic leadership development so it’s able to safely navigate the current moment while aiming for the bigger goal in the distance.At Leadership Resources, our purpose is to make the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.Read More
We’ve all seen the movies and TV shows — the ones that feature a promising young individual who struggles to overcome the external and self-imposed barriers surrounding them until an older and wiser guide enters the fold and aids in the protagonist’s growth. Sure, real life is never as cut and dry as the stories that inspire us, but the student-mentor relationship is anything but fictional. Mentor figures come in many forms and the best ones provide important guidance, feedback, and the occasional nudge that allows their pupils to flourish. But what exactly defines a good mentor? What are the components that allow one individual to instruct another in such a meaningful way?
What Are the Qualities of a Good Business Mentor?
Has Relevant Experience
If you’re not sure how to find a business coach or mentor, a great place to start is by seeking those who have worked in your field for a long time. Those with years of experience are able to naturally impart their wisdom to those with less experience and identify issues and opportunities that others might miss. This isn’t to say that mentors have nothing left to learn, of course — part of being experienced is knowing that the learning process never ends.
Able and Willing to Listen
As we’ve discussed many times before, being a good listener is one of the most important leadership skills one can acquire. Having experience matters, but a good mentor is careful not to hijack the student’s natural growth process. In many cases, an individual will learn more by mulling over a problem on their own and asking plenty of questions. By listening to their pupil’s questions and concerns, a mentor gains a better understanding of their student’s thought processes and can provide answers when needed without simply solving the problem for them.
Passionate about Teaching
Though pop culture gives us many examples of the reluctant instructor, a good mentor must want to fulfill this crucial role. We respond to each other’s energy levels, after all — if your teacher doesn’t seem interested in the subject matter or in helping you out, odds are you won’t feel too enthusiastic, either. The same principle applies in regards to mentoring in business. For the best results, the level of interest must be reciprocal between mentor and mentee.
The mentor-mentee relationship is also built on mutual respect. Both parties must retain a level of humility, good faith, and kindness to get the most out of this symbiotic bond. Mentors and pupils can show respect for one another by showing up on time, paying attention to one another, avoiding judgment and hurtful language, and so on.
Eager to Push Their Students
While the best mentors are respectful and kind, this doesn’t mean that they are pushovers. Personal growth only occurs when one steps outside of their comfort zone. Mentors must not be afraid to nudge their students into new and uncomfortable territories every now and then — this might mean having them take on new roles, tackle a challenging project, etc. It’s possible to push a pupil too far, of course, which is why communication is so important — the better a mentor and mentee know one another, the more productive these exercises will be.
Objective and Direct
Lastly, a good mentor doesn’t hold back when delivering feedback. At the same time, this feedback must be free from personal judgments and delivered in a constructive, transparent way. Simply put, we don’t learn or grow without becoming aware of our shortcomings. We might try to ignore our own flaws or downplay our own strengths, which is why it’s so important for mentors to plainly reveal them. Having an external, objective point of view is paramount for personal progress and reducing leadership stress.
In business and in life, everyone should be so lucky to have a good mentor by their side. Fortunately, there are many resources available that help establish these key relationships.At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.Read More
Among all the challenges you face as a business owner, few things are more difficult to approach than employee compensation. Between establishing base wages and salaries, distributing bonuses, and giving out raises, you’re bound to get a headache or two managing it all. That said, these issues cannot be ignored. Your people might like working for you and your business, but they won’t stick around if they don’t feel fairly compensated, especially if they can find a better paying job elsewhere.
Employees expect their pay to be fair from the beginning and increase over time (beyond just keeping up with inflation). Indeed, without delivering this expectation to new hires, businesses would have a hard time getting anyone on board, and developing leadership talent would be impossible. The hard part for you is figuring out how to broach this subject, how to decide who gets a raise (and when and why), and how to keep your people from turning on each other in favor of the almighty dollar.
So, if you’re hiring new team members, here are five important decisions to make before giving raises.
What to Do Before Giving a Raise
1. Create a Compensation Structure
As your business grows and you hire more people, you need to establish a system of compensation that works best for you. Some companies keep things simple with a one-size-fits-all solution that delivers the same percentage pay increase to every employee on a regular basis (usually annually). While this approach is equitable and easy to manage, it can negatively impact productivity and employee morale, as there is no clear correlation between performance and pay.
Other businesses might decide that performance and compensation management go hand in hand. These companies conduct regular performance reviews for each employee and give out raises based on how well they’ve done. All employees might receive raises, but the best performers will get a higher pay bump. This method can help motivate individuals to work harder and remain engaged, but it can also create tension between employees, splintering unity.
Both approaches have their merits, and you may decide to create a system that falls somewhere in between. Just make sure that your compensation structure benefits your employees and business as a whole.
2. Match the Market
No business exists in a vacuum. You must pay attention to what your competitors are doing if you plan on thriving in your industry and retaining your top talent. Companies that offer the best compensation packages tend to have a competitive edge. You may need to work with a business coach to give you a broad perspective of your industry’s outlook on compensation so you can match or exceed those expectations. This will allow you to attract and retain the best people.
3. It’s All About Value
When budgets are tight, giving out raises might seem like a burden. Indeed, doing so might result in short-term losses. However, you have to think long term and focus on building your business’ value over time. Your people bring value to your company, after all, and without them, you wouldn’t be able to grow or thrive. By reciprocating and delivering value to your employees, you’re creating a feedback loop that will propel your enterprise forward. In this way, compensating your people accordingly is a major component in talent management and succession planning. If you want your organization to be its very best and last for years to come, you need to invest in your people.
4. Exercise Care With Pay Compression
As you calculate wages for new hires and percentages for raises, be mindful of pay compression. This phenomenon occurs when newcomers make the same amount as those who have been with the company for a long time. Not only might this offend long-standing employees, it may actually devalue their position, as the newcomer’s wage accounts for inflation while theirs does not. In other words, a dollar is worth less today than it was a year ago, and even less so than 10 years ago, and so on.
Pay compression can toxify your workplace culture in more ways than one. Therefore, it’s important to adjust all salaries for inflation and always factor in longevity so senior employees are rewarded for their commitment and experience.
5. Be Upfront About Pay When Hiring
When seeking employment, people appreciate transparency. Companies that clearly outline their compensation packages and potential for growth often entice the best people. So, if you’re looking for top talent, don’t shy away from discussions around pay. This includes mentioning how, why, and when raises are dished out. The more open you are about these matters, the better, as it establishes expectations and minimizes confusion.
There’s nothing easy about raises. But if you take your time and think in the long term, you can develop a compensation system that attracts top talent, keeps your best people from leaving, improves your culture, and ultimately adds value to your business.
At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow.Read More
Taking on a leadership role is a major honor and responsibility. Much is expected of leaders, and many leaders have a habit of carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders to prove something to themselves, their colleagues, their team, or all of the above. However, being a strong leader isn’t about bearing all of your business’ burdens — rather, it’s about lifting up your organization through strategic decision-making, delegation, oversight, and flexibility. When things get too stressful (and this year has certainly been one for the books), your ability to effectively lead can get hampered, especially if you don’t have the resources and habits for handling this stress. In this way, strong leadership and stress management are two sides of the same coin.
With that in mind, let’s outline some effective stress management techniques for leaders of all stripes.
How to Reduce Stress
Prioritize Your Physical and Mental Well-Being
All of your decisions and behaviors stem from your physical and mental state. This means that being a productive leader begins with taking care of your body and mind. The following lifestyle adjustments help both prevent and relieve leadership stress:
- Get enough sleep (7-9 hours)
- Maintain a healthy diet (limit caffeine, alcohol, and sugar)
- Stay hydrated
- Exercise regularly (3-5 days a week)
- Practice mindfulness (meditation, yoga)
- Read for enjoyment and education
- Enjoy hobbies and/or mindless activities
Anything that promotes your physical and mental well-being will make you more alert, improve your mood, boost your decision-making capacity, and minimize distractions when it counts.
We’re often told that a messy desk is a sign of genius. While there may be some truth to this statement, a chaotic work space is also a major source of stress. If you can’t easily find folders, documents, utensils, etc., you’ll end up wasting time, causing you to fall behind and undergo even more stress. One of the simplest methods for managing leadership stress, then, is organizing your stuff, which includes not only your physical space but also your schedule. Make lists, label and alphabetize folders and files, streamline your calendar, etc.
Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate
As leaders, we often feel like we have to do everything. Not only is this an arrogant frame of mind, though, it’s also detrimental to your mental state and your organization. Simply put, some tasks can and should be handled by other people so you can focus on other things. The key to proper delegation is finding the right people to take on certain tasks. By establishing a strong rapport with your team, you can determine their individual strengths, which will allow you to trust the person (or people) you charge with a given task. You can always assess their performance after the fact and determine whether changes need to be made. Delegating tasks to your team members also grants them the opportunity to learn new skills and grow into leaders themselves.
Remember: Perfection isn’t the Goal
One of main causes of leadership stress is the nagging pull of perfectionism. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get things done right, but focusing too much on perfection can paralyze your decision-making, slow down your operations, and result in worse outcomes in the long run. You can reduce a lot of stress and work more efficiently by instead focusing on getting things done and smoothing out any rough edges afterward.
Wield the Power of “No”
To be a leader is to have a target on your back (for good or bad). People will constantly reach out to you, ask you questions, seek advice, cast blame on you when something goes wrong, and so on. While it’s important to maintain strong communication with everyone in your circle, it’s also okay to back away and take some time to yourself. You don’t need to attend every single meeting, hop on every phone call, handle every sudden task that crops up, work weekend, etc. Sometimes you just need to say “no” for your own good and, ultimately, the good of your organization. It’s better to deal with one task at a time than to stretch yourself way too thin.
Continue Developing Your Leadership Skills
No matter how long you’ve had your position or been with a company, leadership development never ends — at least, it shouldn’t. There are always new things to learn, new skills to acquire, and new techniques to try out. By continuing to hone your abilities, you’ll get better and better at de-stressing your life and the lives of your employees. Think of it as having more tools in your toolkit to tackle tough problems when they arise. At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.Read More
Even pre-pandemic, leaders knew that each employee has different needs, strengths, and weaknesses. Now, leaders are tasked with how to manage employee schedules when the employee is working at home, or if that employee is working at home with children who are learning from home. Some employees are hoping to get back into the office, while others may resent the fact that they are being asked to go back during a pandemic. No matter what issues have risen since the pandemic, the leader must make a plan to offer fair, empathetic, and effective team management.
What Experts Say
When employees are scattered remotely, or some are remote and some are back in the office, a number of new issues arise. Some employees who are in the office may start taking charge of projects that weren’t assigned solely to them, or start becoming resentful that they had to come back in while others remained remote. This can create division, making employees pick sides of their peers. Though this may not be new to some offices, there are likely more issues exacerbating this. Linda Hill, professor at Harvard Business School says to ask yourself, “What is the experience my employees are having at work, and how can I empower them to do the best they can?” The best way to manage employees when you notice new or existing issues is to offer support.
How to Truly Support Your Employees
The role in management for employee development is often linked to the leader’s capability to support with empathy while managing a productive team. Right now, there will be several variables to work around. Like you, they are dealing with a global crisis and an unstable economy. Some are dealing with small children and out-of-work partners. The list goes on, but leaders must offer effective team management, empathy, and support, if they want business to run as usual.
One idea experts, like Hill, recommend is offering regular one-on-one check-ins with everyone, whether they’re in the office or not. Ask them to be honest about their struggles and make sure they know what the priorities are and what can wait. Hill suggests leaders use this time to explain to the employee what is on the agenda and how the employee is going to achieve their goals. Some employees may need to change hours. Some may desire a strict schedule. The leader may need to manage employee schedules differently and make compromises for the time being. Either way, they must ensure the employee knows that during this time, it’s ok to ask for these concessions.
Remain Inclusive and Empathetic
One of the biggest mistakes a leader can make is to allow employees to start, whether intentionally or not, excluding remote workers. A quick suggestion of ensuring all team members get on a Zoom call, or something of the sort, to discuss how to manage a project together is a great way to handle this situation. Additionally, don’t allow the assumption to float around the workplace that those in the office are more productive than those who are remote. Offer a safe place to vent frustrations while remaining hopeful and productive, but don’t encourage unfair treatment or gossip between employees.
You must also show fairness among your employees. So, even if your star employee is making it known that their being in the office makes them a more productive person than an employee who annoys you, you must stop this toxic behavior of the star employee immediately while remaining empathetic to why they’d feel that way. This is a time unlike any other, so some employees may not know how to handle it, but offering an all-inclusive workplace is a positive step in the right direction toward excellent productivity.
The last thing you want to do is create an environment where employees are burnt out, whether they’re at home or in the office. At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.Read More
The term “company culture” has undoubtedly become a buzzword, but this doesn’t mean the concept lacks merit or importance. Indeed, the importance of company culture cannot be overstated. Unfortunately, it cannot be easily quantified either. Every company operates differently, after all, and there are no hard and fast rules for establishing, maintaining, or adjusting a company’s culture. That said, if your business is falling behind, losing employees, struggling to onboard solid people, etc., chances are your culture is the culprit, at least in part.
Conversely, a strong company culture often yields growth, boosts morale, increases reputation, and spurs innovation. Why? Simply put, humans are social creatures that thrive in environments that offer and encourage both freedom and collaboration. If we don’t feel comfortable expressing our ideas in an open, receptive environment, a lot will go unsaid, and a company can grow stale as a result. Likewise, people perform their best when they enjoy their work and the atmosphere in which they work — this atmosphere directly stems from culture.
So, the question remains: have you established a strong company culture? If you’re not sure, here are some ways to assess your current culture in order to improve it.
How to Establish a Strong Company Culture
Remember: Performance Often Reflects Culture
As just mentioned above, employee and team performance is inextricably linked to culture. Other factors come into play, of course, such as competence, how well someone fits their role, and elements that are mostly out of anyone’s control. For the most part, though, one way to gauge your current culture is to track performance. If you notice a decline or consistent lack of progress, these issues may stem from cultural issues. Perhaps employees do not feel adequately incentivized to perform better. Maybe there is a general lack of enthusiasm or morale. Team members may not feel well-connected, either, which can impede communication.
Turn to Your Turnover Rates
Your business’ turnover rates can also cue you into cultural problems. Some level of turnover is to be expected in any enterprise — people move, change careers, find better opportunities, and so on. However, if your company experiences high levels of turnover for your industry, this speaks to a weak, potentially toxic company culture. Strong company cultures make everyone feel welcomed and valued day in and day out. And team members are more likely to stick with a company that recognizes their contributions and compensates them accordingly. So, if you want to hang on to your best people, you must cultivate such a culture.
Recognize The Role of Human Resources
If your goal is to create and maintain a great company culture, you must properly invest in your human resources (HR) department. One of the main goals of HR departments is to build and influence a company’s culture for the betterment of all employees, teams, and the organization as a whole. In order to do this, HR leaders take on a number of responsibilities, such as facilitating training, education and communication; identifying, clarifying, and reinforcing company values; empowering individuals and teams; mediating, mitigating, and solving issues; recognizing individuals, teams, and organizational efforts, and more. HR leaders also play a pivotal role in the hiring process, helping to identify candidates that will fit into and/or enhance the existing company culture.
Hear From Your People
One of the best ways to get a pulse on your organization’s culture is to receive feedback from those within the company. You might distribute a standardized, anonymized company culture survey to collect key data. Your survey might feature a list of questions, prompts, and/or parameters for individuals to answer directly and/or rate on a scale of 1-5, “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree,” etc., such as:
- I feel like I have the opportunity to grow in this organization
- I like what I do
- I feel valued
- I trust my team
- I feel comfortable speaking my mind
- I feel heard
This information can be used to make sweeping and granular changes within your business to improve and adjust the culture as needed.
Finding the Balance Between Stability and Flexibility
A strong company culture is not necessarily an unmovable company culture. Put another way, the best workplace cultures should be sturdy but flexible enough to adapt to new challenges and developments. While businesses should exercise caution when changing company culture, they should not fear doing so when it is truly called for. Finding this balance between stability and flexibility is not always easy, which is why it is so important to collaborate closely with your HR departments, employees, and teams to establish a set of shared values that will properly move the organization, and everyone in it, forward.At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.Read More
As attached as you might be to your company right now, there will come a time when it is either necessary or practical to make your exit. Of course, this eventuality might be decades away — regardless of when it happens, though, those in leadership roles must consider how the company will change as a result of their absence.
For many, these thoughts provide an ample source of leadership stress. And yet, avoiding them can lead to personal and company-wide problems down the road. If you have no exit strategy in place, you run several risks when you leave: your company might not survive the transition; the organization might radically change its values, mission, goals, etc. (perhaps for the worse); and/or the many efforts you made over the years might be lost.
So, what’s the solution? While there may be no single “secret” to exiting your company while keeping your legacy intact, here are some important ways to leave strategically and graciously.
How to Leave a Company With Good Standing
Identify and Develop Up and Coming Leaders
Your company should spend adequate time and resources developing leadership as a key component of its succession strategy. These efforts will allow current leaders to pass on values, strategies, knowledge, and more to employees who show promise and ambition. And in doing so, these up and coming leaders will be able to fill roles that are left open when someone finally exits. Strategic leadership training can take many forms, but its main focus should be to prepare newer employees to not only take over necessary responsibilities, but to manage them in ways that are commensurate with the company’s underlying values.
Cultivate a Firm Yet Flexible Culture
Every company is different, and therefore so is every company culture. That said, every organizational culture should have these core aspects in common — they should be firm enough to withstand major changes (such as the absence of certain leaders and employees), yet flexible enough to change and improve over time. During your time with the company, then, you should focus on establishing such a culture that, when you leave, the company still represents the core values you helped to imbue while healthily evolving based on societal and internal developments.
Put Financial Incentives in Place (ESOPs)
If you want you and your people to maintain a vested interest in your company, (financially speaking) even after leaving, developing an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) is one way to do so. It is worth noting that these plans can be quite complex and lead to various issues as well, so it’s important to weigh all of the potential costs and benefits with a certified exit planning advisor (CEPA) before making a final decision. Still, ESOPs can become a key component in your succession planning strategy, encouraging employees to take a larger stake in the company’s outcomes.
Leaving Doesn’t Mean Abandoning Ship Entirely
Depending on when and how you exit the company, you may still be able to play a role in its future success, imparting your wisdom and insights from a distance. For instance, you may be able to work as a part-time contractor or consultant to continue helping with leadership development and guiding the direction of the enterprise without steering the vessel. Your experience can be invaluable in helping employees and leaders deal with difficult decisions, stress, burnout, interpersonal issues, and so much more.
Leaving an organization is never easy, but taking the right steps during and after your time there can help set up the company for future success — success that is partially hinged on the contributions you have made and perhaps continue to make.At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.Read More
Regardless of whether the world returns to normal or adopts a “new normal,” change remains constant. The transformation of the physical workplace to the virtual office has been in the making long before the current pandemic, and will only accelerate moving forward. This technological shift has created countless opportunities and innovations, but it comes with a number of costs, too — most notably the lack of physical interaction. Humans are social creatures, after all, and sharing a physical location undoubtedly facilitates communication, strengthens interpersonal bonds, aids in education, and more.
That said, there is still plenty to be gained in the virtual space for everyone, including leadership coaches and their students. Let’s discuss how limited interaction presents challenges in terms of leadership coaching, and how virtual leadership coaching can break through these obstacles and bring its own value to the table.
How to Overcome Virtual Work and Learning
Embrace Connective Technology
As isolating as these times may be, consider how fortunate many of us are to have access to multiple forms of virtual interaction. Not only can we text and call one another — now, we can conduct prolonged online meetings of various sizes via Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facebook Live, and other proprietary video conferencing software. These tools might not replace the feeling of a physical workplace, but they act as a close proxy, allowing coaches and teams to have real-time discussions, share documents, ask questions, and even socialize.
Of course, these tools are only valuable if everyone in a given organization has access to them. So, virtual coaches must ensure that they, as well as their teams, share the same technology and know how to properly use it. Otherwise, some members may get left out, and/or significant time and effort may get wasted troubleshooting. In short, social technology is a virtual coach’s best friend, and the foundation for a strong online leadership development program, so long as everyone is on the same page.
Adjust Frequency and Format of Meetings Accordingly
If you are moving all or most of your operations to the virtual space, your organization will naturally take on a new rhythm. People work at different paces, and this fact may get amplified if they are working remotely. That said, there are occasions that require all team members to unite their thoughts and efforts. But it’s one thing to wrangle several people who share an office into an in-person meeting — it’s another thing to conduct a virtual meeting where every member must join remotely.
In other words, leadership coaches may need to change how they schedule and run meetings and leadership training seminars to account for this physical separation. Virtual meetings might have to occur more frequently to maintain accountability, they may need to be shorter or longer depending on remote workflow, and they might need to be structured differently to ensure all voices are heard.
Think “Physical” Distance, Social Cohesion
Communication and performance management go hand in hand. The term “social distancing” has taken hold in the global lexicon, but some have argued that “physical distancing” is both more accurate and more helpful in these times. Indeed, humans can socially interact without sharing a physical space, and in fact, this social interaction may be more important now than ever before. This sentiment applies to a company’s culture, too.
Business leaders and coaches must redouble their efforts to reach their teams on a personal level, especially when physically separated. The culture doesn’t merely cease to exist when the office is empty, after all. People make up the organization and good leaders help keep it together and strengthen it. Do not let limited physical interaction prevent this social cohesion. Before, during, and after virtual meetings, make sure to discuss matters outside the scope of work; hold weekly virtual social/team-building events; have fun with filters and backgrounds during video chats; the list goes on.
Leadership is Not Limited to a Location
Making the change from a physical to a virtual workplace (even if it’s temporary or partial) is bound to yield some growing pains. That said, the pursuit of your company’s goals and leadership development remains firm. And with the advent of today’s technology, you don’t have to slow down or skip a beat when it comes to growing your business and its leaders as long you are adaptable and forward-thinking.
At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.Read More
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